Alcatel Optronics has strengthened its line up for passive optical components through the acquisition of Livingston, Scotland based Kymata in an all share deal valued at Euros134m (#82m)
Kymata, spun out of research into passive optical components at Southampton University in 1998, was established to make optical components using semiconductor manufacturing on silica-on-silicon wafers. It already makes array waveguides, variable optical attenuators and thermal optical switches using the technology. Earlier this month, at the National Fibre Optic Engineers Conference in Baltimore, USA, the company announced plans to make its planar lightwave circuits on 200mm wafers after 2002, which Kymata said would significantly reduce the cost of the devices for optical networks.
Alcatel Optronics is one of the world's largest suppliers of mainly active optical components, and sees the purchase of Kymata as part of its strategy to be a leading player in the integration of active and passive components on the same chip.
Jean-Christophe Giroux, chief executive officer of Alcatel Optronics, said "Kymata is a perfect match with Alcatel Optronics and will allow us to gain at least two years in time-to-market for planar products. The acquisition is a crucial step in the implementation of our strategy of active/passive integration, which we consider to be key to the future."
Kymata's shareholders include British Telecom, the Universities of Southampton and Glasgow, as well as industrial groups such as IBM Microelectronics, and numerous venture capital companies, including 3i, Bowman Capital, ACT Venture Capital and Telesoft Partners. BT was one of the earliest investors, and licensed several of its optoeletronic patents in exchange for its stake. BT also helped Kymata establish what is one of Europe's first commercial planar optical device manufacturing plants.
The company has raised over #120m in capital funding, and now employs just over 400, including 95 engineers at its R&D division. It has facilites in Europe as well as the US, in addition to its Scottish headquarters.
Commenting on the deal, Kymata chief executive officer Mike Hickey said "the deal is a win-win for Kymata, our people and Scotland. It provides our business with the resources and scale needed to achieve market leadership in a sector that is increasingly competitive. It provides our employees with outstanding career opportunities."
Hickey said Kymata's production technology is ahead of others for next generation optical components, and pooling its R&D efforts with that from Alcatel Optronics will enable the combined group to come up faster with cost efficient and innovative solutions for the components required for optical networks.
The transaction is expected to close by the end of August.